David Baram

Creating sustainable and supportive relationships is the goal.

In between the hectic life of brand building, David talks about finding zen on the golf course and why he became a lawyer in the first place.

Tee up

For me, golf isn’t a social event. It’s a competitive sport with a 6AM tee time to minimize the length of an otherwise very long game. But it’s also my yoga—a rare chance to be completely in the moment.

The art of business

The most successful entrepreneurs aren’t only great business people, they’re really artists—creative thinkers and passionate about their brands. As with any great artist’s career, long term strategy is critical.

Here to serve

Advocating for others was the draw [of becoming a lawyer]. That’s how I started my career. And now at VMG it translates to a commitment to our partner entrepreneurs.

The level of trust any business owner has in their chosen partner determines the success of the partnership. It’s all about collaboration.

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You live in LA but you’re originally a Jersey boy?

I was born in Paterson, NJ—a very blue collar, Italian upbringing. I’ve been in Los Angeles 25 years now, but like most NJ natives, my heart will always be in the Garden State. I still have a place on Long Beach Island!

Aside from an LBI address, what other parts of your upbringing stay with you?

Values. Service to others and intense loyalty to friends, family and teammates. That was ingrained in me from a very young age.

Is that why you first became a lawyer?

Advocating for others was the draw. That’s how I started my career. And now at VMG it translates to a commitment to our partner entrepreneurs.

And you had another career in between, right?

There’s a scene in the movie City Slickers where Jack Palance says the secret to life is “Just one thing. Stick to that and the rest don’t mean sh**”. Well, I guess I’ve had three things. First it was the law, then talent management; the business of building artist and media brands—and then we founded VMG.

Sounds like your ‘one thing’ might be supporting and building others’ success?

It’s true that those skill sets can be instrumental in helping build consumer brands. Creating sustainable and supportive relationships is the goal. The level of trust any business owner has in their chosen partner determines the success of the partnership. It’s all about collaboration. We’re proud that many of our founder partners choose to continue to work with us on their subsequent investments and companies. That’s the sign of an enduring relationship.

Speaking of the “long game” you’re an avid golfer. Do you build relationships on the course?

For me, golf isn’t a social event. It’s a competitive sport with a 6AM tee time to minimize the length of an otherwise very long game. But it’s also my yoga— a rare chance to be completely in the moment. The other special thing about golf is that it is self-policed. As many have said, “show me how someone plays golf and I’ll know a lot about their character."

You’re pretty good at reading people?

As a lawyer you have to learn to read the jury, the judge and witnesses to be successful. It’s the same with talent and also with our founders and management teams. It’s critical that we understand their individual goals and desires.

So success isn’t always defined in dollars.

Success is defined differently by each of the founders we’ve worked with: becoming a brand and category leader, building a mission-oriented platform, positively impacting consumer and employee lives. Obviously, financial success is essential, but it's much more than that. Part of our job is to help identify that definition and reverse engineer to get to the desired result.

Sounds a lot like talent management.

The most successful entrepreneurs aren’t only great business people, they’re really artists--creative thinkers and passionate about their brands. As with any great artist’s career, long term strategy is critical. One wrong decision can be devastating. We need to be collaborative partners and provide a lens through which decisions can be made more easily.

That’s a lot of work for a recovering workaholic.

We’re all trying to find balance in life. A singular passion helps: for our work, in our personal life and in giving back.

That adds up to “one thing” very nicely.

Jack Palance is never wrong.

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